The McWane Science Center Collection

The McWane Science Center Collection is made up of nearly a half-million specimens and artifacts related to the natural history of Alabama.

This includes Native American artifacts, rocks and minerals, preserved biological specimens, and hundreds of thousands of fossils! From dinosaurs to giant ground sloths to projectile points, McWane Science Center is dedicated to the preservation and study of Alabama’s natural wonders.

History of the McWane Collection

The history of the McWane Collection begins with the 1970 opening of the Red Mountain Museum, formerly located on the south side of Birmingham. Employees of this City-owned museum spent nearly two decades leading expeditions across the state, collecting tens of thousands of fossils and geological samples. In 1994, the City of Birmingham merged the Red Mountain Museum and nearby children’s museum, Discovery Place, with the private entity, Discovery 2000, Inc. Opened in 1998, this new downtown museum was later named McWane Science Center and now serves as the official repository for the Red Mountain Museum collections. Through continued collecting efforts, the McWane Collection currently stands as the second largest natural history collection in the state.

Alabama Dinosaurs

In the entire United States, Alabama is the best place east of the Mississippi River to find the remains of dinosaurs. The Alabama Dinosaurs exhibit displays actual dinosaur fossils discovered around the state. Alabama Dinosaurs features rare finds from the Alabama tyrannosaur to the dangerous dromaeosaurs or “raptors.”

Sea Monsters

Rising from the depths after 80 million years, meet the faces and fins that once swam the ancient oceans of Alabama. In this exhibit visitors will come face-to-face with a 15-foot sea turtle, a 17-foot fish chasing its prey and visitors will peer into the jaws of the most dangerous sea monster of its time – the Mosasaur.

Explore! Lab

The Explore! Lab is devoted to hands-on exploration of geology, paleontology, anthropology and zoology. Classify feathers, butterflies, rocks, shells, and more! Computer stations let you take an interactive role in learning about the scientific method. Develop your microscope skills. Touch fossils, skeletons, and rare minerals, too.

Watch scientists working on specimens and artifacts from the McWane Collection. Daily activities in the Explore Lab include the cleaning, repair, identification, and labeling of specimens and objects.


NatureScope is a unique exhibit designed jointly by the McWane Science Center and the Birmingham Audubon Society, featuring a collection of Alabama birds: a Bald Eagle, Wild Turkey, two extremely rare Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, and even a skull from the extinct Dodo Bird. The exhibit includes an Audubon cabin and a demonstration stage where visitors can enjoy nature programs and live animal shows.

Guests can also meet large bugs including emperor scorpions, a tarantula, and even a giant African millipede!

Collections Storage Room

Peek inside McWane's Collection repository!

See first-hand the giant rolling storage system, kept in a secured and climate-controlled room, which serves as the home for the McWane Collection.

Alabama Biodiversity Database

The Alabama Biodiversity Database is home to McWane Science Center’s Paleontological and Biological Collections

Check back often as new collections are frequently being added. Recent additions include:

  • Pleistocene (Ice Age) mammals
  • Fossil shark teeth from the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras

Scientific Research

The Collections Department at McWane Science Center is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and study of Alabama’s rich resources in the fields of paleontology, geology, archaeology, and zoology. The McWane Collection is open to scientific researchers and students currently advised by researchers.

The McWane Collection in the News

1/12/18 Paleo Profile: The Bryant’s Shark.

1/11/18 New Ancient Shark Species Discovered in Alabama.

1/11/18 83 million-year-old Bryant sharks swam in ancient Alabama seas, gave birth to monstrous Megalodon sharks.

1/11/18 Nenek Moyang Hiu Terbesar Ternyata Berukuran Kecil, Lo!.

1/11/18 Arqueólogos descubren nueva especie de tiburón prehistórico.

1/11/18 Siapa Sangka, Nenek Moyang Hiu Terbesar Ternyata Punya Gigi Mungil.

1/11/18 New Ancient Shark Species Discovered in Alabama.

1/10/18 83 million-year-old shark that lived during dinosaur age likely the ancestor of largest ever shark.

1/10/18 83 million-year-old shark that lived during dinosaur age likely the ancestor of largest ever shark.

1/10/18 83 million-year-old shark that lived during dinosaur age likely the ancestor of largest ever shark.

1/10/18 On the Trail of Megalodon Ancestors: Scientists in Alabama Solve Forty-Year Shark Puzzle.

1/10/18 Cretalamna bryanti: New dinosaur-era shark, ancestor to fierce and ancient Megalodon, discovered in Alabama.

1/9/18 Fossil teeth link beast to Earth’s largest shark.

1/9/18 Nově identifikovaný druh žraloka je pravděpodobně předchůdcem megalodona – největšího žraloka, který kdy obýval naši planetu. Vědci učinili důležitý objev v evoluci těchto predátorů z fosilních nálezů objevených v americké Alabamě.

1/8/18 巨齿鲨的祖先:与地球上最大的鲨鱼有关的新发现的化石野兽.

1/8/18 Bestia fósil recién descubierta relacionada con el tiburón más grande.

1/8/18 Alabama scientists have discovered a new shark named for ‘Bear’ Bryant family.

1/8/18 Shark species named after Alabama legend Bear Bryant.

1/8/18 Newfound Fossil Beast Related to Earth’s Largest Shark.

1/8/18 Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant now has an ancient shark species named after him.

1/8/18 Megalodon Ancestor: Newfound Fossil Beast Related to Earth’s Largest Shark.